“Why not bring the arts and crafts to customers?” thought Gabriela Schwender and Deborah Scalcione, who together run Long Island Crafty Ones, a mobile and traveling workshop based in Rocky Point.
Now such an idea is a reality.
The duo, who both describe themselves as passionate about creativity and craftwork said the idea to create the mobile workshop came to fruition a year ago. They decided to join forces after Schwender posted a message on Facebook looking for someone to collaborate with on crafts.
Initially the pair looked at retail frontage in the Rocky Point area but realized it wasn’t a good fit.
“We looked at a number of storefronts, but the rent was too expensive, we just couldn’t afford it,” Scalcione said. “After that we were, like, ‘Why don’t we go to the people and travel around?’”
From there, the duo purchased an RV and decided to convert the inside into their workplace area.
Schwender said they work closely with their clients to see what they are looking for.
“We bring everything to them, and they are surprised when we tell them we can come to them,” she said.
Scalcione said that they really try to customize customers experiences. She mentioned a recent birthday party they had worked at.
“It was an older girl’s birthday, and before we asked what she likes, her mother said she really likes to drink coffee and we thought why not marble some coffee mugs,” Scalcione said. “It turned out to be great — they had a lot of fun.”
Schwender said they started out slow due to people not necessarily knowing what they offered, but the feedback they have gotten from customers has been positive.
“They are amazed with what we bring and what we offer,” she said. “They can’t believe we have an RV and think it’s a great idea.”
Scalcione mentioned their services cater to children and adults.
Recently, the partners joined the Rocky Point Sound Beach Chamber of Commerce and said the connections with other businesses have very been helpful.
For the fall season, the pair will have a table every weekend at the Bakewicz Farms Fall Festival in Wading River, doing face paintings and customizing “Toy Story” figurines that fit in with the local festival’s theme.
In addition, the duo said they offer workshops aimed at a multitude of skill sets and they plan on offering seasonal craft sessions for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“We really want [everybody] to be excited about crafting and get them to make something on their own,” Schwender said. “We want to help build up your skills.”
Scalcione said she is glad they are getting more exposure and more people are finding what they do. The duo hopes to continue expanding and possibly buy a second RV or a bigger vehicle.
“I think it is a lost art — we really want people to work with their hands and seeing what they can create,” she said.
The winds of change have began to blow in Port Jefferson village as the new year brings a host of changes to the area’s small businesses.
A few restaurants in the area are closing. Japanese restaurant Oceans 88, famous for its sushi bar, planned to be closed Jan. 31. Owners did not respond for requests to comment.
“There’s no more sushi in the village, that’s a real shame,” said village Mayor Margot Garant.
Though not all is bad as a number of new shops, both new names and old names, take shape all around the village.
Billie’s 1890 Saloon
Billie’s 1890 Saloon, a Port Jefferson staple, has reopened its doors after a kitchen fire forced it to close two years ago.
The bar and restaurant located on Main Street is back in business under its original ownership. Founded in 1981 by Billie E. Phillips and his late first wife, Billie’s 1890 Saloon soon became a community favorite. In 1987, after six years, Phillips sold his business, but after the fire in June of 2016 he purchased the restaurant and bar back with his son, Billie S. Phillips, and set about renovating the space.
While the layout of Billie’s has remained relatively the same, the crowd has changed.
“It’s a more grown-up establishment,” Phillips Jr. said. “The same tables, and bar length and everything like that but it’s just been cleaned up and refurbished and we’re just going for a little more of an adult crowd than what it had turned out to be before the fire.”
Before the 2016 fire, Billie’s was considered a college bar, tailoring to the younger crowd with its infamous wheel, which was spun every hour and wherever the wheel landed was the drink that would be offered at a reduced price. Now, it has an age limit of 23, pushing away the crowd that made it so popular before.
“The new Billie’s seems to have a very different vibe,” Christopher Gulino, a former East Setauket resident said. “The renovations look great, but I think the customers that were regularly going to Billie’s when it was previously opened were looking forward to seeing the same old Billie’s.”
While the younger crowd may not be too happy with the changes to Billie’s, Phillips Jr. said they were necessary for the business to succeed.
“Billie’s had become the local meeting place and people have very fond memories of it,” Billie the younger said. “But I don’t think the business model they had would have survived much longer.”
New shop from East Main & Main
Food lovers can rejoice as one of the owners of East Main & Main is opening a new restaurant in Port Jefferson village.
Lisa Harris and her husband Robert Strehle opened the popular donut shop in June 2017, offering customers new flavors of donuts daily. After the success of the donut shop, Harris is ready to take on a new solo venture, a restaurant that offers brunch, lunch, dinner and shareable appetizers.
“It’s always been my dream to own a restaurant and run a restaurant,” Lisa Harris said. “It just seemed like the natural next step — it seemed like it was something that we were ready to take a chance.”
The new restaurant is slated to open around the end of February on Main Street. Harris said she plans for the space to have a casual comfortable vibe.
“We didn’t have to do any building, any construction, or anything like that,” Harris noted. “We were very lucky because the restaurant there had pretty much everything we needed, it was just something we had to make our own by changing the color scheme and doing a lot of cleaning.”
Harris plans on having some crossover between the staff at the donut shop and the new restaurant, but she is also looking to hire a full-time crew.
“So we will be creating some new jobs,” Harris said. “Probably seven to 10 new jobs will be created in Port Jefferson, which will be great.”
While rumors have been making their rounds that East Main & Main is closing, Harris assures that’s not the case.
“We’re not moving the donut shop,” Harris said. “The donut shop is staying right where it is.”
And if donuts are more your thing, don’t worry, as Harris insists her and her husband are open to the idea of opening up another space somewhere else if the right opportunity comes along.
“It’s finding the right spot is always a challenge,” Harris said. “We’re kind of so spoiled here because of the foot traffic that we get. It’s just always exciting and fun, so we’re looking for a spot that is very similar to Port Jeff and there aren’t a lot of towns like Port Jeff.”
Origin of Era
A new clothing shop that just opened Jan. 26 in Chandler Square is looking to attract women of all shapes and sizes with a fashion-forward, inclusive ideal.
Renee Goldfarb, the owner of Origin of Era, is a Long Island native but has spent much of her life living in Queens and Brooklyn and abroad while working in the fashion industry.
“I worked in film and fashion for 15 years — moved abroad and worked in Prague and Berlin. I worked in two corporations in branding, but I didn’t want to make money for anyone else anymore, I wanted to do it for myself,” she said.
The owner opened and operated another store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for several years before she and her husband bought a home in Amityville Harbor. When coming to Long Island Goldfarb wanted to find a town that had the same sense of community she originally felt in that city neighborhood. Her selection was between Babylon village and Port Jeff village, but she chose the latter because she said the elected officials had small businesses in mind, especially with events like the annual Charles Dickens Festival.
While she said her previous store focused on vintage clothing, her new shop emphasizes the modern. In terms of her clothing selection, Goldfarb supplies sizes from extra small to extra-large, and offers free alterations to any items purchased in the store. The brand selection encompasses companies from the U.S., Spain, the U.K., India and China, though she stressed she only selected ethically produced clothing.
Most important in her selection, she said, was the emphasis on getting clothing only designed by women.
“If I owned a woman’s store I would make sure we represented all women and made it inclusive,” Goldfarb siad. “That’s why I wanted to make sure we only carried female designers … If we think logically, we are catering to women, nobody knows women best but a woman.”
A sign on North Country Road in front of The Gift Corner in Mount Sinai during the Black Friday weekend could be easy to miss. Cars passing by had only seconds to read the words “Small Store Saturday — If you haven’t been here, today is the day!” as they drove on the winding road.
Marion Bernholz, the owner of The Gift Corner, was busy on Small Business Saturday and the entire Black Friday weekend, marked on the calendar by shop owners and customers alike as the unofficial kickoff to the holiday shopping season. The small space, packed with small decorations and knickknacks, had customers squeezing past each other as they picked out their holiday gifts. Despite the bump in business Bernholz saw over the weekend, she wondered why relatively few people have even heard of Small Business Saturday.
“How long has this been going on, eight to 10 years?” the gift shop owner said. “It still cracks me up we have people coming in on Saturday and, holy Christmas, they say, ‘What is small store Saturday?’”
Small Business Saturday originally started in 2010, sponsored by American Express, as a way to incentivize people to shop local during the busiest shopping weekend of the year.
American Express reported the weekend after Thanksgiving was quite a busy time for small businesses across the nation. Consumers spent approximately $17.8 billion nationally while shopping local, according to data released Nov. 26 from the 2018 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey from American Express and the nonprofit National Federation of Independent Business. The survey noted 42 percent of those surveyed reported shopping at local retailers and restaurants, just 1 percent down from last year. Still, 41 percent reported also shopping online that same day.
Those small business owners surveyed in the report said they expect an average of 29 percent of their total yearly sales to come through the holiday season, yet the owners of local small stores on the North Shore know they have a disadvantage compared to big box stores and the online retail giant Amazon and the like.
“People should understand how hard it is to run a small business,” Maria Williams, the owner of Sweets N Scoops in Shoreham said. “A small business’ costs are necessarily greater because we can’t buy in bulk like [large businesses] can.”
Business owners across the North Shore reported a range of outcomes from the busy shopping weekend.
Ecolin Jewelers, 14 E. Broadway, Port Jefferson
Linda Baker, co-owner of Ecolin Jewelers, said while most of her sales come in the last two weeks before Christmas, and not the Black Friday weekend, the year overall has been very good for her business.
“This whole year has been better,” Baker said. “This is probably the best in maybe eight years.”
She said she she’s experienced more people coming in toward the end of the year, with the phones constantly ringing off the hook with people’s orders, adding she’s feeling good about her numbers for the season.
“I’m glad to see that people are happy, walking around and coming into stores,” she said.
The East End Shirt Company, 3 Mill Creek Road, Port Jefferson
Owner of The East End Shirt Company, Mary Joy Pipe, said her business participated in the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce annual Holiday Shopping Crawl, offering a free hoodie valued at $20 for those spending $50 in store. She added turnout on Small Business Saturday was comparable to last year, and that has always had to do with the foot traffic and the weather.
“Our Santa Parade brings a lot of people down into the village, and more folks are around for the extended holiday after Thanksgiving,” she said. “We need feet on the ground and nice weather, and we got that on Saturday.”
Pipe’s business has changed with the times. East End Shirt has both a website and brick-and-mortar storefront, but her online component is a comparatively small percentage of her sales compared to her shop, which has existed in Port Jeff for close to four decades, she said.
“Is Cyber Monday or Cyber Week having an effect? — yeah it is,” she said. “People are not coming out, but anything that has a shipping component I know the potential for retail is still there if they can’t get it shipped in time.”
Red Shirt Comics, 322 Main St., Port Jefferson
Joshua Darbee, the owner of Red Shirt Comics, said he had multiple sales going on, including buy-one-get-one-free on new comics, 25 percent off back issue comics, and 20 percent off on most of the toys and graphic novels in the shop. As a store that only opened in 2017, Darbee has been working to build a loyal customer base.
“If people are going to buy on Amazon, they’re going to buy on Amazon,” he said. “There’s really no competing with them.”
The comic industry relies on periodicals, driving customers back monthly for the next issue in an ongoing series, and Darbee said without return customers there is no way his business can thrive. He saw a steady stream of traffic come into his shop during Black Friday weekend — a better turnout than last year — and he hopes those sales, along with his card game and tabletop role-playing events hosted at the shop, will bring in return customers.
“The hope is that people will see the long-term damage [Amazon and other online retailers] can do to the local economy,” he said. “You just have to try to engage with people, be friendly and be part of that community. It’s been awesome to see people go out on weekends like this and support small businesses.”
Shoreham to Mount Sinai
Game On, 465 Route 25A, Miller Place
Tristan Whitworth, the owner of video game shop Game On in Miller Place said his business did well the days after Thanksgiving, this year seeing a 30 percent increase in customers compared to last year. He attracted customers with select sales of up to 60 percent off specific products, which incentivized people to come in and spend time on the few video game consoles he set up around the shop.
“It’s making sure the customer knows that we’re there to give them a good shopping experience,” Whitworth said. “I always try to keep it so that it’s not about customers rushing in to make a sale. People were there for an hour or two even though it was Black Friday.”
Whitworth said he knows there is a huge market for used video games online, but he always tries to make his business about the customer service.
“You can get every single thing we sell online, so it’s really about having the experience of going to the shop and buying stuff, talk to the guy who owns it about what game you should buy or try out,” he said. “That’s what you need.”
Sweets & Scoops, 99 Route 25A, Shoreham
While Maria Williams, owner of dessert haven Sweets & Scoops, said most of her business occurs just before holidays, rather than afterward, but she was pleased with the sales she had for people ordering custom chocolate arrangements and other party favors.
She said she sees the importance of local business as a means of giving vitality to an area.
“People need to stop shopping on Amazon,” Williams said. “If they stay local and shop local in small business we do well, and we can hire more people.”
The sweets shop owner said the best product she and other small businesses can offer people is something unique. She said she tries her best to make items customized for the individual, products that one cannot get anywhere else.
“It’s eight years now that I’ve been in business and thank god it became a success because of its uniqueness,” Williams said. “[Large corporations] don’t have that extra touch, and everything is so commercial with them. Here no two things are ever alike.”
The Gift Corner, 157 N. Country Road, Mount Sinai
Bernholz said last year’s Black Friday weekend was one of the busiest in years, with lines going out the door of her small North Country Road gift shop. This year was also good for her business.
“We did well on Friday, but Saturday was awesome,” Bernholz said. “It was very packed all day, and so many people came in that are my regulars — really showing their loyalty.”
Bernholz business has been around for close to 30 years, but she said she is not very active on the internet, nor is she proficient with technology in general. She still relies on her dedicated customers, some of whom bought holiday gifts from her as kids and continue to buy them as adults.
Her dedicated customers even advertise for her. The Gift Corner has signs along Route 25A promoting her shop, but it was one put up for free, without even originally letting Bernholz know they were there.
“I don’t advertise, I have never advertised,” she said. “A customer does that on their own … It’s unbelievable.”
The halls of the Miller Place High School are dead quiet, and footsteps echo far down the long halls. All the students are sitting down and being lectured to from one period to the next, all except one class where their raucous noise can be heard through the door.
Walking into business teacher Thomas Fank’s fourth-period Virtual Enterprise class is like walking into the main floor of a Manhattan business startup. There is an onrush of sound, a cacophony of fingers clacking on keyboards and students shouting across the short space of the computer room. As a stranger walks in, Miller Place High School student Andrew Friedman strides over with a hand outstretched. He doesn’t say, “Welcome to Miller Place” or “Welcome to Fank’s fourth-period.” He says, “Welcome to Amplify Audio,” the name of their virtual company that sells headphones and other audio equipment.
“Everyone here enjoys what they’re doing so they don’t go off topic much at all,” said Friedman, the president and CEO of their virtual company. “I look forward to this class every day.”
The business had only gotten off the ground at the beginning of October. Despite having only a 40-minute period every day, the students already have a portfolio as thick as a phone book, with sheet upon sheet of statements of goals, human resources forms, invoices and so on. The class has a living breathing website including a Spotify music playlist, a link to the virtual company’s Instagram account and a page where one can buy their products. Though the site and company are still under construction, just like a real business, Amplify Audio buys from wholesalers and then sells items for a profit, though all with virtual funds.
The business started with $150,000 in virtual investments from the renowned McNulty’s Ice Cream Parlor in Miller Place, the agrochemical company the Halex Group and Autonomous Ballistics, a Manhattan-based firearms company. All these investments were made with calls by the students themselves, and though they don’t involve actual dollars, the sales pitches are very real.
“If we didn’t have those investors, we would have had to take out a loan and we would have been in debt before we even started,” said Tyler Cohen, vice president and CEO of Amplify Audio. “This is one of the issues that a real company deals with. Where are they going to get the money?”
Virtual Enterprise classes have been becoming more and more popular in schools throughout the U.S., though Fank’s two VE classes have only been in place since the start of the school year. The business teacher said when he originally proposed the class to the school board, he expected it to be a much harder sell, but nearly everyone was on board with the idea.
“It’s student driven, and that’s why they like it,” Fank said. “The kids have more responsibility and more accountability than other classes, and there’s more peer-to-peer learning.”
Fank, who himself has his own small business, a wedding DJ company called Encore Events, teaches two VE classes. His fourth-period class is the Amplify Audio group, while his eighth-period class’s company is called Snap Shack, which sells photobooths for use at party events.
Everything within Amplify Audio is virtual, from the products to the money they use to sell them, though the students don’t treat it as such. Throughout the 40-minute period they have, each and every minute is spent in meetings, making sales, working on company documents, or like the much-maligned party planning committee from the hit television show “The Office,” planning for holiday events or birthday parties for every employee. Those in the human resources department complete employee evaluation forms of their fellow students as if they were real employees.
“We’re the ‘Toby’ of our office,” said Julianne Cerato, the human resources director of Amplify Audio and member of the party planning committee. “When it comes to the evaluations, they may be friends, but we’re still a business, and you have to focus on them as if they’re just a co-worker.”
Students on the sales team make real efforts to pitch their products to teachers and students around the high school. Alex Constantis, the president of marketing, made 10 sales alone from Nov. 5 to Nov. 9 to teachers and students he found while wandering the halls.
The next step for Amplify Audio is finishing out its business plan by Dec. 12. Every member of Amplify Audio staff has to pitch in at least three pages of a 60-page report, though this is just the start to the company’s adventure.
In October both VE classes traveled to Long Island University Post to participate in the annual Virtual Enterprise competition. Fank said his classes didn’t place, simply because of how new they were compared to other schools that have been working on their businesses for several years. He hopes by January, when the next competition takes place, his classes will make top honors.
“The accountability is the main thing I tell them about,” Fank said. “We don’t have any kids who come in here and sit on their phones. They know they have to do work because it’s part of that team-oriented feel that we have, and it really guides them to want to do well.”
Coffee lovers may find themselves intrigued by a sidewalk sign promising Japanese iced coffee is available inside Carl’s Candies.
Nautilus Roasting Co. owner Hugo Fitz has launched a seasonal pop-up coffee shop off Northport’s Main Street that will offer a variety of hot and iced coffee drinks for sale through Sept. 30. For Fitz, he said he hopes the stand is a first step toward fulfilling a dream.
“It’s been at least 12 years of me talking about how I’d love to open up a coffee shop one day.”
— Hugo Fitz
“I have a passion for coffee,” he said. “It’s been at least 12 years of me talking about how I’d love to open up a coffee shop one day.”
A Huntington Station resident, Fitz, 39, has spent the last 13 years working for a New York City advertising agency. Facing lengthy commutes into the city, coffee was not only a passion but a daily necessity.
“There’s plenty of opportunities to experience higher-end coffee when you work in the city,” the entrepreneur said. “There’s where I cut my teeth on being a coffee fan.”
Fitz said he quickly became a hobbyist who “dove down the wormhole” in learning what went into a cup of java starting with four different methods of processing the beans, the hundred or more methods of brewing from standard drip and iced coffee to Japanese iced brew. This Japanese iced brew method at Nautilus uses hot water and a traditional drip to brew the coffee, but then drops onto ice “flash freezing” it to preserve each batch’s unique flavors.
“I have a master’s degree worth of knowledge in coffee, and yet, there’s still so much more I don’t know,” he said. “I think to evangelize good coffee to people, this is a great opportunity.”
Fitz said he wants to help bring “third-wave” coffee, a movement to create high-quality artisanal coffee that’s sourced from individual farmers or locally roasted, out to Long Island. While it’s prevalent in New York City, he claims to know only a handful of shops that offer it locally.
In 2017, the entrepreneur founded Huntington-based Nautilus Roasting Co. and began searching for a storefront. After four failed attempts at negotiating a commercial lease, Fitz said he decided just to focus on what he loved — making a great cup of joe. The entrepreneur began renting time on a Long Island City roasting machine to prepare 25 to 40 pounds of coffee beans at a time — putting him in business as a nanoroaster. His first product, the Signature blend of Columbia, Burundi, Guatemala and Sumatra coffee beans, was sold online.
“There’s a great opportunity to bring the coffee bar up on Long Island.”
— Hugo Fitz
Fitz met with Gina Nisi, owner of Carl’s Candies, looking to rent space before being offered the chance to setup a space of his own. He’s got a small coffee bar set up inside the sweet shop where customers can purchase espresso, hot coffee, hot or cold lattes, cold brew, Japanese iced brew or the potent Red Eye, a choice of hot or Japanese iced brew coffee with two espressos, made from his roasted beans through Sept. 30. Prices range from approximately $2.50 to $4 per serving.
Fitz said he feels like he’s gotten a warm reception in Northport, sometimes finding it difficult to keep growlers of cold brew and cold-brew concentrate in stock due to its popularity.
“There’s a great opportunity to bring the coffee bar up on Long Island,” Fitz said. “There’s no reason if you want great coffee to go to Brooklyn. It’s not grown there. We can make great coffee here too, and get people drinking great coffee.”
Bags of his specialty coffees are available for purchase inside the Carl’s Candies. Learn more about Nautilus Roasting at www.nautilusroasting.com.
The furniture store on the corner of Sheep Pasture Road and Main Street in upper Port Jefferson turned its owner’s American Dream into reality, but after 26 years in business, 8 Futons is preparing to close its doors.
Joseph Rezvani, a Port Jeff resident who immigrated to the United States from Iran in the 1960s when he was 18 got his start in the futon business in 1989, back then operating out of the garage of his home, before opening his store in Port Jeff in 1992. He owns the building that houses 8 Futons and said he’s not sure yet if he’ll rent it to a new tenant or if his wife would move her nail salon to the location. He attributed his decision to close to a number of factors — a desire to spend more time with his grandchildren, a decline in business precipitated by more online and chain store options and an ever-growing number of empty storefronts in 8 Futons’ direct vicinity.
“Doing business with Joe is like doing business with your best friend. He’s interested in what I need and what I want.”
— Donna Karol
The store was known for carrying unusual, unique items like furniture and decorative pieces in specific styles, in addition to futon mattresses and frames. The business was also known for Rezvani’s willingness to find and order specific items if they weren’t in the store, helping customers replace damaged items, assisting with assembling pieces and adding a hands-on, personal sales touch from him and his staff. He told TBR News Media in a 2006 interview he always had an interest in design and started making his own frames for the futons before opening the store and offering a wider array of furniture and other home furnishing accessories.
“I have a bond with my customers — I don’t mind spending the time with them,” Rezvani said, adding that interacting regularly with his loyal customers is easily what he will miss most about his business.
Donna Karol, a Port Jeff resident shopping for a new shelfing unit on the afternoon of June 29, said she’d moved around the area several times over the years, and each time she paid Rezvani a visit to help furnish her new home.
“Doing business with Joe is like doing business with your best friend,” Karol said. “He’s interested in what I need and what I want.”
She said she first bought furniture from Rezvani 25 years ago and has even sent furniture with her kids when they went away to college over the years.
“When I saw the sign go up, I was devastated,” she said of her reaction to hearing 8 Futons was closing. “It’s the service, him personally.”
“I have a bond with my customers — I don’t mind spending the time with them.”
— Joe Rezvani
Rezvani said at times during his years uptown he felt neglected by Port Jefferson Village, though he added he appreciates the hard work Mayor Margot Garant and her team do in trying to foster a beneficial environment for businesses. The village is in the process of implementing long-planned revitalization efforts for the uptown business district, expected to get underway in the coming months.
“I understand the mayor is doing a hell of a job, but there is a little bit more that can be done,” he said. “I’ve been struggling for the last two years to stay in business. I just didn’t want to be another statistic, another empty store.”
He said he would like to see some more incentives for landlords to be able to reduce rents imposed on tenants. Rezvani said he is thinking about continuing his business without occupying the physical space on Main Street, offering customers the opportunity to buy inventory online, but only making shipping available locally in an effort to maintain his community-oriented feel.
As an immigrant, Rezvani said he’s sometimes troubled by the political rhetoric surrounding the immigration discussion.
“There’s a lot of people — the majority — that are just looking for a better opportunity, and that makes the country better,” he said. He added that he feels his desire to seek his American Dream paid off.
Local officials weigh in on President Trump’s decision to withdraw from Paris Agreement
By Alex Petroski
U.S. President Donald Trump’s (R) decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, a global effort to combat the threat of climate change, elicited strong responses from around the world. One of the more notable reactions came from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who along with the governors of California and Washington State established the United States Climate Alliance. The coalition will convene the three states, and others that have come out in support of the initiative, in committing to uphold the parameters of the Paris Agreement despite Trump’s June 1 announcement. As of June 5 the alliance included 13 members — 12 states and Puerto Rico.
“The White House’s reckless decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement has devastating repercussions not only for the United States, but for our planet,” Cuomo said in a statement. “New York State is committed to meeting the standards set forth in the Paris accord regardless of Washington’s irresponsible actions. We will not ignore the science and reality of climate change, which is why I am also signing an executive order confirming New York’s leadership role in protecting our citizens, our environment and our planet.”
The Paris Agreement, which officially took effect in November 2016, aimed to strengthen the response to climate change globally by keeping temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius during the current century and also strengthen countries’ ability to deal with the effects of climate change. The U.S. is now one of only three nations on the planet not included in the agreement.
According to Cuomo, the United States Climate Alliance will seek to reduce emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels and meet or exceed the targets of the federal Clean Power Plan, each of which were self-imposed U.S. goals of the Paris Agreement. The Clean Power Plan was established in 2015 to establish state-by-state targets for carbon emission reductions. Trump signed an executive order early on in his administration placing a hold on the plan and pledging a review. Cuomo also announced New York State will be investing $1.65 billion in renewable energy and energy efficiency in the aftermath of Trump’s decision. In addition he said he aims to create 40,000 clean energy jobs by 2020.
Republican New York State Sens. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) and Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) did not respond to requests for comment through spokespersons.
Local officials from across the political spectrum spoke out about Trump’s decision in the aftermath of the announcement.
“We live on an island and have already begun to see some of the effects of our rising seas,” Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said in a statement. “To protect Brookhaven for our children and generations to come it is our responsibility to take action now. The president’s announcement today regarding the Paris climate accord is disappointing. On behalf of our residents, I will continue to fight to protect our environment.”
Democrats including 3rd Congressional District U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) and others blasted the decision in public statements.
“President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement is a devastating failure of historic proportions,” Schumer said. “Future generations will look back on President Trump’s decision as one of the worst policy moves made in the 21st century because of the huge damage to our economy, our environment and our geopolitical standing. Pulling out of the Paris Agreement doesn’t put America first, it puts America last in recognizing science, in being a world leader and protecting our own shoreline, our economy and our planet.”
New York State 4th District Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) expressed support for the newly minted climate alliance on Twitter, sharing the hashtag “#LeadNotLeave.”
First Congressional District U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) said in an emailed statement through a spokeswoman that he supported many of the goals of the Paris Agreement, but thought the U.S. “approached this entire agreement all wrong.” He criticized former President Barack Obama (D), who played a leadership role in establishing the Paris Agreement, for bypassing Congress in reaching the agreement and for what he viewed as outsized pledges made by the U.S. compared to other world powers in the agreement.
“What we need to do moving forward should include continuing to take an international approach to protect clean air and clean water, and reduce emissions that are impacting our climate, but we must negotiate it correctly so that we aren’t over promising, under delivering and causing unnecessary harm,” he said.
During Trump’s June 1 speech announcing the withdrawal, he sited a loss of American jobs in the coal industry and crippling regulations on the business world as the drivers behind his decision.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, who was appointed by Trump, praised his decision.
“This is a historic restoration of American Economic Independence — one that will benefit the working class, the working poor, and working people of all stripes,” he said. “With this action, you have declared that people are the rulers of this country once again.”
Administrators from the New York District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration, a government agency that offers support to small businesses, were not available to comment on Trump’s decision or the formation of the United States Climate Alliance, but a spokesperson for the department instead directed the request to answers U.S. SBA Administrator Linda McMahon gave to Yahoo Global News June 6. She agreed with Trump’s decision to leave the Paris Agreement, adding she believes this will result in more job opportunities for Americans.
“I think [Trump] was making a statement that we’re going to look at what’s good for America first,” she said. “I do think climate change is real, and I do think that man has some contribution to climate change. As to the extent of the science, predictions as to what might happen 20, 30, 40 years from now, I’m not sure we have that totally decided, but I do respect the science behind a lot of it.”